ISO 18311:2016 specifies a technique for determining the effects of anthropogenic impacts (e.g. substances) in the context of the prevailing environmental conditions on the feeding activity of soil organisms in the field. In addition, the use of this method for monitoring the biological quality of soil is described (see Annex A). The breakdown of organic matter by soil invertebrates and microorganisms is a crucial process that determines important soil functions such as nutrient availability for plants and the maintenance of soil fertility. In addition, decomposing plant litter provides habitats and food for a wide range of organisms, thus supporting biodiversity and ecosystem services .
ISO 18311:2016 is applicable to all soils in which soil organisms are active. The use of the bait-lamina test is independent from whether there is a litter layer or not. The sampling design of field studies in general is specified in ISO 23611‑6 (see also Reference ). The design can vary according to the aim of the study as well as conditions (e.g. soil properties, contamination, etc.) of the site to be investigated.
ISO 18311:2016 is not applicable for semi-terrestrial or very shallow soils. It can be difficult to use it under extreme climatic or geographical conditions (e.g. in high mountains).